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Movie Review

There’s something funny going on in the MiB.

That, in itself, is perhaps unremarkable. When you work for the Men in Black, you’re liable to see all manner of “funny” when you punch the clock. Maybe a thousand-tentacled creature is walking through the halls. Or perhaps a family of literal bubble-brained denizens from Zerboni is enjoying soda via osmosis. Sure, most folks might do a double-take when coming face-to-face with a one-eyed, three-nosed Begurthigarian. But at MiB, “funny” is relative.

In fact, for all the strange and colorful creatures that regularly pass through London’s truly cosmopolitan MiB headquarters, the one thing no one seemed prepared for was … a mole.When a party-hearty alien prince ostensibly under MiB protection is killed by a couple of shape-shifting assassins, it becomes clear that not all these Men (and Women) in Black are who they appear to be. And High T, London’s bureau chief, is determined to investigate.

Could the culprit be Agent H¬—the roguish, irresponsible gadabout who’s still regarded as one of the agency’s greatest heroes? The man who, along with a still-in-the-field Agent T, saved the world with (as is oft repeated) “nothing but his wits and series 70 de-atomizers”?

Could it be Agent C—a bespectacled, by-the-book bureaucrat who has taken his loathing of the handsome Agent H to new and, perhaps, unprofessional levels?

Or is it possibly newcomer Agent M?

If an outside agency was investigating, seems like she’d initially be the prime suspect. After all, she essentially broke into MiB headquarters and practically insisted someone make her an agent (which someone did). Then she ingratiated herself to notorious loner Agent H, thus earning herself the plum assignment of guarding the now-dead prince. (Then again, she was the one who formulated the whole “mole” theory in the first place.)

Or could it be, y’know, an actual mole? An intergalactic one from a few parsecs away?

Hey, this is MiB we’re talking about. You never know.

Positive Elements

The universe is a pretty hostile place. Who knew, right? In addition to the cold, dark, inherently unlivable vacuum of space beyond our atmosphere, MiB: International tells us that even its habitable parts sometimes hold hostile aliens who’d like to kill, eat and perhaps use us as dental floss. While most of Earth’s intergalactic immigrants and visitors are peace-loving businessmen, vacationers or refugees, some are serious threats—and the MiB exists, in part, to deal with those threats.

It’s not an easy job, and we see that its agents often risk their lives to battle these interstellar interlopers. Both agents H and M do so repeatedly. They’re joined in their adventure by a pocket-sized alien that M calls “Pawny.” (He was a pawn in a strange chess-based culture, apparently, which begs more questions than we have time to consider here.) He swears to serve and protect M faithfully, and he’s as good as his word.

Spiritual Content

There’s a whiff of divine or karmic providence at work here. In flashback, T tells H that often the universe conspires to bring someone to the exact point in space and time where he or she is most needed. “Sometimes the universe gets it wrong,” H retorts, but the theme does echo throughout the film.

Sexual Content

Agent H is a bit like MiB’s version of James Bond: He’ll sleep with whoever might help him further a mission.

We see him in bed with a besmitten alien—humanoid except for her tentacles—and he removes one of her suction-cup-laden octopus arms from his bare chest (leaving a bevy of hicky-like bruises). He renews acquaintance with an old flame, and the two share what appears to be a rekindling of the romance (complete with embraces and longing looks). An alien at MiB has the ability to rewind time, apparently, and she uses this talent to replay H’s smoldering, smiling walk past her. M is not immune to H’s charms, either—though any romantic inclinations that either she or H feel are immediately squelched out of professional duty. (MiB agents are supposed to be completely untethered from personal attachments, and the job inherently involves sacrifice, another agent tells M.)

Vungus the Ugly—the alien dignitary that MiB was supposed to protect—finds Agent M quite attractive, and he flirts with her shamelessly. M worries that H is “pimping” her out and tells H that she has no intention of “fornicating” with Vungus. H insists that she doesn’t have to, but reminds her that its their job to make Vungus feel comfortable and, given his galactic importance, show him a good time.

We hear some rather crass allusions to sex and anatomy, including one joke that compares the use of the agents’ ever-present neuralyzer (the thing that wipes people’s memory) to masturbation. We see people and aliens dancing sultrily with one another at a nightclub. We see men without shirts and women wearing tank-tops and skirts that come above the knees. We see news footage of a shoulder-baring Arianna Grande. At a nightclub, Agent H promises Vungus that he deleted some apparently incriminating pictures.

Violent Content

Galactic assassins come to earth and leave a bloody trail in their wake. Two of their victims are human: The assassins are somehow able to steal their identities and liquefy them—turning their bodies into what look like heaps of melted and congealed gummy bears. They kill a number of Pawny’s tiny compatriots, too (we see their little bodies strewn about). Vungus is shot with a mysterious pellet that makes him appear inebriated and/or sick. Shortly thereafter, his car is violently thrown through the air via an explosion, sending it careening into walls (where the vehicle eventually lodges). The prince stays alive long enough to set the rest of the movie’s plot in motion, but then expires. His death is not welcome news for anyone: Indeed, officials from Vungus’ home planet want H and M’s heads to roll—quite literally.

The alien assassins have the ability to both liquefy and solidify earth and metal at will: At one juncture, they roll an asphalt road as one might snap a table cloth over a table, sending vehicles and people flying. Humans and aliens get into some pretty severe firefights, though often buildings and vehicles suffer far more damage than the living combatants. Other aliens do die, though—but in fairly antiseptic ways (by MiB’s messy standards, at least).

H and M get into some wild fights with people and aliens: Most everyone involved is knocked around quite a bit by fists and feet. Some are thrown into walls or slammed into pieces of furniture, and a couple of combatants are choked. (One attacker, we’re told, has killed people painfully and messily in the past; it’s his only real skill.) Men are knocked off/thrown off a pier. H and M fall from a flying vehicle, tumbling about 10 feet into a bunch of sand. Several entities are bitten by a lethal three-headed snake, and some exhibit the effects of the venom.

When Pawny’s queen dies, he says he’s honor-bound to kill himself in the most painful way possible, and he (rather unconvincingly) holds a tiny knife to his own throat until someone convinces him that he’d honor the queen more by living. (He makes the same death-oath when he decides to serve M, too.) A man fights with a small alien/sentient beard, punching and squeezing the creature when it displeases him. Threats are made. A doomsday weapon blasts part of a desert into a massive canyon. Someone nearly falls to his death off the Eiffel Tower. We hear that a weapon can “boil you from the inside out.”

Crude or Profane Language

We hear three or four s-words and enough blue words to fill a blue book. Included in the profanity tally are “a--,” “crap,” “d--n,” “h---,” “d--k,” “p--s” and the British profanity “b---er.” God’s name is misused about a dozen times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Agent H sniffs a type of poison used to kill an alien and identifies its source—noting that the stuff, if used sparingly, won’t kill but will cause someone to dance and party for about 17 hours straight. (Not that he knows from experience, H unconvincingly adds.) He drinks some sort of that potent blue concoction during a game of cards.

Other Negative Elements

The mole—whoever he, she or it is—lies to protect he, she or its identity. Agent H is a bit of an irresponsible cad who flouts authority. As a child, Agent M (then known as Molly), sneaks an alien out of her house and, later, successfully infiltrates MiB headquarters. She works for a time as an on-the-phone tech consultant: Neither she nor her fellow workers seem to care that much about the folks they’re helping. There’s a mysterious reference to being “handcuffed to a horse.”

Conclusion

We should, I suppose, be grateful that the Men in Black film franchise has never been particularly faithful to its source material.

The 1990-91 comic series by Lowell Cunningham gave us the original, paper-bound Men in Black¬—agents who not only dealt with extraterrestrial visitors, but all manner of supernatural bogeymen. They didn’t just wipe witness’s memories; they sometimes killed them. And rather than protecting humankind, they sought through their mechanizations to control it. In some ways, they weren’t so much agents Mulder and Scully of The X-Files as they were its Cigarette-Smoking Man.

But when Columbia Pictures dropped rising star Will Smith and respected vet Tommy Lee Jones into the original Men in Black film in 1997, it came with a lighter, funnier and—despite its technicolor gore—family friendly vibe.

MiB: International holds true to the film franchise’s light tone. But it sports some extraterrestrial problems, too. We’re exposed to some interspecies hanky-panky here and deal with a couple of painfully melted men. The language is hardly stellar, either. Moreover, despite featuring the talents of Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth (an unexpected coda to their partnership in Thor: Ragnarok), MiB: International feels curiously flat and uninspired. All the beats feel right, but the end-product is wrong—as if the film was made via a paint-by-numbers kit.

Men in Black: International feels less like a fully functioning movie than an effort to wring just a wee bit more cash from a tired franchise. And while that’s hardly an alien concept in Hollywood, it’s a shame that such a star-studded sequel should be quite so earthbound.

The universe is at times pretty unfavorable to Agents H and M as they fight back against alien attacks in this movie. Fortunately, as we attempt to fight back the attacks of our own world, we can trust in a God who is greater than the universe and everything in it. It starts with establishing a Christian worldview, and below are some resources that can help you and your family build a Christian worldview together:

What is a Christian Worldview?

Why Is a Christian Worldview Important?

The 21 Toughest Questions that Your Kids Will Ask about Christianity

Discovering God Through an Analysis of Worldviews

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Tessa Thompson as Agent M; Chris Hemsworth as Agent H; Rebecca Ferguson as Riza; Emma Thompson as Agent O; Liam Neeson as High T; Kumail Nanjiani as Pawny (voice)

Director

F. Gary Gray ( )

Distributor

Sony Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

June 14, 2019

On Video

September 3, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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